Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cut It Out! @ Roots Rockin' Royal II Fashion Show & Fundraiser

We'll be at Roots Rockin' Royal II Fashion & Fundraiser tomorrow (2/26) starting at 6pm! 10% of Cut It Out!'s proceeds will go to JAMPACT's Adopt-A-School Program & Haiti Relief Efforts!

More details below:

Date: Friday, February 26, 2010
Promenade, 215 W 28th Street, NYC
: 6:00 - 10:00 PM
JAMPACT's 2nd Annual Fashion Show presenting collections by top designers from the Caribbean and New York. Proceeds in aid of JAMPACT Adopted Basic Schools and its Haiti Relief Efforts.
$25 Pre-sold, $30 at the door... purchase tickets here:

or go to ticket locations:

16223 Hillside Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11432-4023

Moodies Records
3976 White Plains Road
Bronx, NY 10466-3002

Hope to see you there!

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Cut It Out! Recognizing Influential Black Women During Black History Month

Gwendolyn Brooks
(June 7, 1917 - December 3, 2000)

Gwendolyn Brooks was an African American writer and poet. Her work dealt with the everyday life of urban blacks. She was the first African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize (1949), and in 1968 she was named the poet laureate of Illinois.

Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College in Chicago in 1936. Her early verses appeared in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper written primarily for that city's African American community. Her first published collection, A Street in Bronzeville (1945), reveals her talent for making the ordinary life of her neighbours extraordinary. Annie Allen (1949), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, is a loosely connected series of poems related to an African American girl's growing up in Chicago. The same theme was used for Brooks's novel Maud Martha (1953).

The Bean Eaters (1960) contains some of her best verse. Her Selected Poems (1963) was followed in 1968 by In the Mecca, half of which is a long narrative poem about people in the Mecca, a vast, fortresslike apartment building erected on the South Side of Chicago in 1891, which had long since deteriorated into a slum. The second half of the book contains individual poems, among which the most noteworthy are “Boy Breaking Glass” and “Malcolm X.” Brooks also wrote a book for children, Bronzeville Boys and Girls (1956). The autobiographical Report from Part One(1972) was an assemblage of personal memoirs, interviews, and letters; it was followed, though much later, byReport from Part Two (1996). Her other works include Primer for Blacks (1980), Young Poet's Primer (1980), To Disembark (1981), The Near-Johannesburg Boy, and Other Poems (1986), Blacks (1987), Winnie (1988), andChildren Coming Home (1991).

In 1985–86 Brooks was Library of Congress consultant in poetry (now poet laureate consultant in poetry), and in 1989 she received a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts. She became a professor of English at Chicago State University in 1990, a position she held until her death. (Source)

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Cut It Out! Recognizing Influential Black Women During Black History Month

Elizabeth Catlett
(April 15, 1915 - )

Elizabeth Catlett is an African American sculptor and painter who expressed the struggles of her people using her amazing talent. Her art pieces helped to bring a social consciousness to the world of art.

"She was born in Washington D.C. She passed a competitive exam for entry to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1932, but was refused into its school of art due to her race. She therefore entered Howard University and studied for one year under Lois Mailou Jones to become a textile designer. She changed her major to painting when she discovered what concepts and messages could be conveyed in this form of art. The concepts which were conveyed in the Mexican Muralists were the turning point in her dedication to Socialist expressive art. Upon graduation with honors from Howard University in 1937, Elizabeth Catlett went on to the State University of Iowa. At IOWA, she studied under Grant Wood (artist of American Gothic and Daughters of Revolution). Wood encouraged her "to paint what we knew most intimately." Catlett was the first student to receive a M.F.A. degree from the State University of Iowa in 1940. Her master's thesis, MOTHER AND CHILD, won the AMERICAN NEGRO EXHIBITION in Chicago in 1940. (more)

Source, Source

Art pieces by Elizabeth Catlett:

Mother and Child


New Generation

Two Generations

Three Women of America
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cut It Out! Recognizing Influential Black Women During Black History Month

Assata Shakur
(January 16, 1947 - )

Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Deborah Byron Chesimard) is a political activist and former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army; who, after being convicted of the murder of NJ State Trooper, Werner Foerster, escaped from a NJ prison and is now living in exile in Cuba.

Here is Assata's story, in her own words:
"My name is Assata ("she who struggles") Shakur ("the thankful one"), and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government's policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO program. because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it "greatest threat to the internal security of the country" and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.

Political Prisoner to Exiled
On May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli
were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a "faulty tail light."Sundiata Acoli got out of the car to determine why we were stopped. Zayd and I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came to the car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were black, and riding in a car with Vermont license plates, he claimed he became "suspicious." He then drew his gun, pointed it at us, and told us to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see them. I complied and in a split second, there was a sound that came from outside the car, there was a sudden movement, and I was shot once with my arms held up in the air, and then once again from the back. Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Forester was killed, and even though trooper Harper admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder law, I was charged with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was my closest friend and comrade, and charged in the death of trooper Forester. Never in my life have I felt such grief. Zayd had vowed to protect me, and to help me to get to a safe place, and it was clear that he had lost his life, trying to protect both me and Sundiata. Although he was also unarmed, and the gun that killed trooper Forester was found under Zayd’s leg, Sundiata Acoli, who was captured later, was also charged with both deaths. Neither Sundiata Acoli nor I ever received a fair trial. We were both convicted in the news media way before our trials. No news media was ever permitted to interview us, although the New Jersey police and the FBI fed stories to the press on a daily basis. In 1977, I was convicted by an all- white jury and sentenced to life plus 33 years in prison. In 1979, fearing that I would be murdered in prison, and knowing that I would never receive any justice, I was liberated from prison, aided by committed comrades who understood the depths of the injustices in my case, and who were also extremely fearful for my life." (more)


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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cut It Out! Recognizing Influential Black Women During Black History Month

Cathy Hughes
(April 22, 1947 - )

Cathy Hughes is a radio and television personality, business executive, and entrepreneur.

"[She] is the founder and chairperson of Radio One, Inc., the largest African American owned and operated broadcast-company in the nation. Radio One is the first African American company in radio history to dominate several major markets simultaneously and possesses the first woman-owned radio station to rank #1 in any major market. In 1995, Radio One purchased WKYS in Washington, D.C. for $40 million — the largest transaction between two Black companies in broadcasting history.

In May of 1999, Cathy Hughes and her son Alfred Liggins (President & CEO) took their company public. Hughes made history again by becoming the first African American woman with a company on the stock exchange. Radio One’s value is currently in excess of $2 billion dollars. In 2000, Black Enterprise named Radio One, “Company of the Year”, Fortune rated it one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For”, and Radio One was inducted into the Maryland Business Hall of Fame.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, she moved to Washington, D.C. in 1971 and became a lecturer in the newly established School of Communications at Howard University. She entered radio in 1973 as general sales manager at WHUR, Howard University Radio, increasing station revenue from $250,000 to $3 million in her first year." (more)



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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cut It Out! Recognizing Influential Black Women During Black History Month

Patricia Roberts Harris
(May 31, 1924 - March 23, 1985)

Patricia Harris was the first black woman in the Cabinet when President Jimmy Carter appointed her secretary of housing and urban development (HUD) in 1977.

Harris was born in Mattoon, Illinois. She's a Howard University graduate with a BS in Political Science and Economics (1945). She earned a law degree with honors from George Washington University and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Below is a chronology of her professional career*:
  • 1961 - she became Associate Dean of students at Howard University School of Law and in 1963 she was given full professorship
  • 1965 - President Lyndon Johnson appointed Harris Ambassador to Luxembourg. The first black woman ambassador, she served until 1967 when she returned to Howard University as a law professor
  • 1969 - she became Dean of Howard University
  • 1970 - she joined a Washington D.C., law firm practicing corporate law until she was appointed U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (later named Health and Human Services - DHHS)
  • 1981 - After Jimmy Carter was lost his bid for a second presidential term, Harris resigned as secretary of DHHS.
Find out more about Patricia Harris here.

*Source Unknown for some of the information

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cut It Out! Recognizing Influential Black Women During Black History Month

Angela Davis
(January 26, 1944 - )

Angela Yvonne Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944. She's an American socialist, political activist, and retired professor of the University of California, Santa Cruz - History of Consciousness Department. She also served as the director of school's Feminist Studies department. Her particular research interests include feminism, African American studies and social consciousness.

Angela attended the Elizabeth Irwin High School in Greenwich Village. While there she researched solutions to poverty and racism and becomes intrigued with the Communist Manifesto and communism. (source) She also became a, "vocal activist during the Civil Rights Movement and [she's] a former Black Panther."

"In the 1970s she was a target of COINTELPRO, tried and acquitted of suspected involvement in the Soledad brothers' August 1970 abduction and murder of Judge Harold Haley in Marin County, CA. She was twice a candidate for Vice President on the Communist Party USA ticket during the Reagan era.

Since moving in the early 1990s from communism to reformism she has identified herself as a democratic socialist. [She] is also the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish what it calls the prison-industrial complex."

Here are some other important facts about Angela Davis(source):
  • September 16, 1963: A church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama kills four girls who Davis knew from her childhood. This greatly impacts Davis and she feels it is the product of a racist, violent society and not just the act of a few angry individuals.
  • April, 1968: King is assassinated, which has a large effect on Davis and the organizations in which she is participating. Although King's philosophy differs from Davis', she is devastated by his death and the negative impact is felt throughout the Black community.
  • 1969: Davis travels to Cuba which she feels has been completely misrepresented by American propaganda. This affirms her position that the only way to eradicate racism in the United States is to take a socialist route.
  • October, 1995: Angela Davis shows her disgust with the exclusion of women in the Million Man March, as she believes it encourages chauvinism in Black activism and the Black community.
  • October, 1996: Davis goes to UCLA to speak out in protest against Proposition 209, which would ban affirmative action in University of California schools.
  • January 2006: Angela Davis is currently on sabbatical at UC Santa Cruz and continues to tour the world to protest oppression.
Source, Source
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cut It Out! Recognizing Influential Black Women During Black History Month

KoKo Taylor
(September 28, 1928 - June 3, 2009)

KoKo Taylor was an American blues singer often referred to as the "Queen of Blues." "She was known primarily for her rough, powerful vocals and traditional blues stylings." Her most popular song was titled, Wang Dang Doodle. Below is an excerpt from KoKo's bio, located on her official web page:

“I come from a poor family,” recalls Koko. “A very poor family. I was raised up on what they call a sharecropper’s farm.” Born Cora Walton (an early love of chocolate earned her the lifelong nickname Koko) in 1928 just outside of Memphis in Bartlett, Tennessee, Koko was an orphan by age 11. Along with her five brothers and sisters, Koko developed a love for music from a mixture of gospel she heard in church and blues she heard on radio stations beaming in from Memphis. Even though her father encouraged her to sing only gospel music, Koko and her siblings would sneak out back with their homemade instruments and play the blues. With one brother accompany-ing on a guitar strung wth baling wire and another brother on a fife made out of a corncob, Koko began her career as a blues woman. As a youngster, Koko listened to as many blues artists as she could. Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie were particular influences, as were Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson. She would listen to their songs over and over again. Although she loved to sing, she never dreamed of joining their ranks.

"When she was in her early 20s, Koko and her soon-to-be husband, the late Robert “Pops” Taylor, moved to Chicago looking for work. With nothing but, in Koko’s words, “35 cents and a box of Ritz crackers,” the couple settled on the city’s South Side, the cradle of the rough-edged sound of Chicago blues. Taylor found work cleaning houses for wealthy families in the ritzy northern suburbs. At night and on weekends, Koko and Pops would visit the South and West Side blues clubs, where they would hear singers like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Magic Sam, Little Walter, and Junior Wells. And thanks to prodding from Pops, it wasn’t long before Taylor was sitting in with many of the legendary blues artists on a regular basis." (more)



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Monday, February 1, 2010

Cut It Out! Recognizing Influential Black Women During Black History Month

Today is the first day of Black History Month. We like to use our blog during this month to highlight the many black women in our history that have influenced our culture in more ways than we start with:

Zora Neale Hurston
(January 7, 1891 - January 28, 1960)

Zora Neale Hurston was born in Alabama in January of 1891. She attended Howard University, and later Barnard College, where she was the only black female student. She received her BA in Anthropology in 1927.

Zora was a folklorist/writer during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. She published four novels, more than 50 short stories, plays and Essays. Her most notable novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, was published in 1937 and later adapted in to a movie by Harpo Productions in 2005. She traveled extensively in the Carribean and became immersed in local cultures and practices to conduct her anthropological research. Her book Tell My Horse, published in 1938, was based on her documented research of the time she spent in Jamaica and Haiti studying both African and Voudon rituals.

Zora eventually went into public obscurity for decades due to a number of cultural, and political reasons. "Many readers objected to the representation of African American dialect in [her] novels, give the racially charged history of dialect fiction in American literature. Her stylistic choices in terms of dialogue were influenced by her academic experiences. Thinking like a folklorist, [she] strove to represent speech patterns of the period which she documented through ethnographic research."

Hurston passed away on January 28, 1960. You can learn more about Zora here.

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